The August 20 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 13th annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.
Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.
The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.
Henry Liu, Cangshan Cutlery Company, President
PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: Henry Liu’s vision to bring appealing knives that feature quality steel blades to the marketplace came to fruition in 2014 when he launched Cangshan Cutlery Company. As the CEO of New Star Foodservice Inc. he had the resources and desire to expand beyond the commercial industry and reach the everyday consumer. With a strong desire and attention to detail, he led his team through two years in research and development before the company came to market with its first knives. Today, Cangshan has expanded its U.S. distribution and pushed into markets outside of the U.S. such as the U.K., Australia, Canada, Korea and China.
WHAT TO WATCH: Under Liu’s leadership, the company has held fast to its mission and has won more than 22 design awards. The company has also partnered with Sandvik, a resource based in Sweden that manufactures high-alloy metals used in tools for everything from mining to kitchen knives. Liu and his team were able to take the steel and forge it in a six-step process to achieve the goal of creating as sharp a knife as possible with the desired edge retention he sought, while pairing the blades with a design aesthetic that piqued the interest of consumers. As such, Liu has penetrated the cutlery category, bringing his knives to both mass and the independent gourmet channels and is gearing up to launch new partnerships in the near future.
PERSPECTIVE: “We have stuck to our vision of exceptional craftsmanship. Our knives are hand forged and sharpened by professional bladesmiths with years of experience. We easily could charge 40 to 50% more for our knives based on quality, but we want to make our product accessible to as many people as possible. We feel incredibly blessed to have come so far so quickly. It is a testament to a very dedicated team that is determined to create something special in a marketplace that hasn’t seen a lot of innovation for the past 100 years,” said Liu.
2019 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):
- Heshy Biegeleisen, Gourmia
- David Whitley, True Brands
- Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s
- Walter Lehneis, Groupe SEB USA
- Henry Liu, Cangshan Cutlery Company
- Darbie Angell, Darbie Angell
- Kevin Blossom, Spectrum Brands
- Mike Evans, Bush Industries
- Tom Neth, ThemoServ
- Jayme Smaldone, Mighty Mug
- Robert Wang, Instant Pot
- Ryan Gilchrist, Wayfair
- Davide Sereni, Luigi Bormioli/Bormioli Rocco
- Kristi Forbes, Forty One Madison
- Jean-Philippe Peugeot, Peugeot Saveurs North America
- Michelle Gass, Kohl’s
- Bob Maricich, International Market Centers
- Lance Hood, Progressive International
- Kenneth Wilkes, Corelle Brands